This past weekend I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend in beautiful Joshua Tree National Park. I loved every second I spent in this extraordinary place. I recommend spending longer than a weekend, but if you are headed for a short visit, these were my three favorite things I recommend you do not miss.
1. Ryan Mountain Hike
This is the most popular hike in Joshua Tree. It is a tough hike up to the summit, but it is so worth it. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes and bring a good supply of water. Park in the parking lot designated for this hike. You'll find the trail head clearly marked at the center of the lot. It took my companion and I about 45 minutes to get to the summit. Take your time getting up there and stop to appreciate the incredible views along the way. If you're lucky, you may spot some wildlife. (pictured above)
2. Cholla Cactus Gardens
The Cholla Cactus Garden is another great place to catch the sunset. This fun little garden looks man made, but it isn't. The garden is surrounded by mountainous landscapes in every direction. If you're into photography there are a lot of cool opportunities here. Be sure to stay on the path, its dangerous to wander through the plants not only for you, but also for them.
3. Arch Rock
Arch Rock is an astonishing 30-foot granite arch located along a .5 mi desert loop trail out of the White Tank Camp Ground. I visited the rock both nights during my stay in the park. It is an excellent place for star gazing and one of the most popular places in the park to try to get a good photograph of the Milky Way Galaxy. Finding this trail was a little tricky, you'll have to march through some campsites, but it is definitely worth some perseverance.
While you are in the park make sure you take advantage of the excellent rock climbing, hiking and take a trip to the lovely little town of Joshua Tree. I highly recommend the Joshua Tree Saloon for dinner and the Crossroads Cafe for breakfast. If you need any gear for your trip, you'll find it at Nomad Adventures.